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November 10, 2009


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*sigh* My brother is making this mistake at the moment. He has no idea what he wants to do, is not academically gifted, in fact, just the opposite, and is wasting his and my parents money to go to a private university. The worst part is, that I cannot convince him or my parents that it is a bad idea.

I've tried. It's so terribly frustrating.

I wish I had put off college. I am "academically gifted" and made the great grades, but I still don't have a clue what I want to do for the rest of my life. I feel like I bought a $30,000 Marketing degree and Spanish minor...for what? I'm glad I received scholarships and worked off the rest so I didn't have debt, but it still seems wasteful.

I will say that a college degree is necessary to get into a bunch of interviews. Sadly, they didn't seem to care what that degree was in as long as you had one...

I went full time to a local community college for my senior year of high school plus being in a vocational mechanical engineering technologies program. I also had worked since I was 16 and worked full time during the summers and after I graduated I ended up getting a job offer from a temp agency for a company doing mechanical design. I did that for over 18 months (was hired in after a month) and then in May the company was going under and I remained as the last person in the engineering department until I was laid off. A month later I found my current position and work as Mechanical designer making a great salary and also work for another company at home part time designing for them. I took this semester off of school but I am going to school part time finishing up my degree, but took this semester off. I own a house that's only seven years old, a car that I bought that is 2 years old, I have multiple bank accounts and savings accounts that I am slowly trying to put some money away in. I have done all this and don't even turn 21 until May 2010. Everyone has different paths in life. Yes I am still going to college to get my degree but I also have over two years of great experience in my field, multiple certificates, and great recommendations with job offers coming in monthly in this tough economy.

We need to get over the idea that everyone has to go to college. For many people its simply a waste of time and money.

In normal situations, in my opinion if a kid doesn't get at least B average in high school then they shouldn't be spending money on college at least not right after high school. If a kid simply can't do at least above average in high school if they apply themselves then they won't do well in college. They are probably better suited for a skilled trade. If the kid has talent but just doesn't apply themselves in high school then they shouldn't jump right into college either and should wait till they get their act together and are self motivated enough to study and succeed in college.

If people feel a need to go to college to become well rounded then they can go to a library and read some books for free instead. And I think most people are deluding themselves if they think that every kid in college is truly becoming well rounded and not just partying.

Branching from Jim’s point, I agree that as a society we diminish the value of trade/vocationally training. The truth is, some kids just aren’t capable of figuring differential equations or writing lengthy essays, but are exceptionally talented at building and repairing things. We should be encouraging them to explore these innate or learned abilities more, rather than shaming them into spending money on an education that does not suit them at that may ultimately discourage them from self improvement.

Also, plumbers and electricians make a mint.

Unfortunately, a college degree is nowadays a required "ticket" to so many jobs that I think it's really a bad choice for a kid to choose to not get that ticket. If you don't get it, you shut yourself out.

It doesn't have to cost a lot--you can always do community college or state schools or night school.

And I agree--the parents have to push the kids into getting a degree that will get them a job. Go for chemistry or engineering, or even business, and stay away from English (or Spanish!?).

So, my 2 kids are both going to go to college, and if I'm paying for it (which I will be), they will study something useful.

They can always be a plumber of an electrician later. Because these jobs/careers also require skills that many students just will never have. For example, I don't have the manual dexterity or physical strength for those jobs.

I think jobs are just expected to much. Take a look at craigslist. There are Office Assistant jobs that say college degree required.

@MC: Me: Paid for MA in English, gainfully employed.
Old roommate: Degrees in Business and Accounting, working at call center.

One's intelligence and drive, as well as degree, plays a large part in landing a good job


Feel free to provide all the personally funded scholarships you would like to lower tuition.

Or perhaps you would like to mandate professors all make half what they make now.

I love these people who think you just pass a law and problems go away.

Good stuff.

I joined the Navy right out of high school. I received about 6 months of excellent training not including boot camp. I took some correspondence courses and attended a couple of community college courses when not at sea. I applied for and was selected for a program that sent me to the University of Washington fully paid. I earned two Bachelor's degree and a commission as an officer. After 4 years of sea duty I was selected for the Naval Postgraduate School where I earned a Master's degree. There were numerous specific training courses along the way and I eventually retired after 25 years.

The education programs change but, in general, the military is a fine place to get an education and then put it to work.

I must have caught the education bug because a few years after retirement I earned a Master's in Tax degree including taking all of the accounting courses needed to sit for the CPA exam.

I've worked for a fortune 500 company that "requires" a degree. But we routinely hire people that don't have a one. We also have many associates in administrative jobs that have degrees and even MBAs, but don't have the drive, dedication or interpersonal skills to advance in their career.

Over 50% of our population is employed in small businesses that often do not require degrees but still provide worthy and rewarding career opportunities.

Some fields literally require a degree but for many jobs this requirement is just a filter because corporate America has been brainwashed to think that anyone without a degree is not smart, capable or dedicated enough to hire.

For companies that post for a job with degree requirements, if potential applicants w/o degrees don't try to apply, the ad worked as intended by weeding out applicants that lack self-confidence.

As a manager, I am impressed when an applicant applies that does not have a degree, that tells me more about their character than anyone that shows up with a MBA.

For many people I think that the Junior College system offers great opportunities but even they are becoming overcrowded and students often have a hard time getting required courses. In California the JC's have very low fees for in-state students and offer a guaranteed path into a state university once you have passed a certain number of mandatory classes. They also provide an inexpensive two year period during which time you can figure out what you really want to do with your life while living at home and supporting yourself with a part time job. The JC system provides training in most of the healthcare fields which is not a bad place to be in the consumer, rather than the producer, society in which we now find ourselves.

I think the key is that people need to figure out what they want to do with their lives before they start doing it. If you know you want to be a nurse, engineer or teacher then going to college is the obvious choice. If you don't really know what you want to do for a job then college is a very expensive place to try and figure that out.

60% of people who start college don't graduate, so it seems that maybe 40% of people going into college probably shouldn't have.

I'm one of those who joined the Navy out of high school and then finished my college degree once I got out of the Navy. The military was a huge benefit to my life overall. It was my first chance to get out into the real world and be an adult, my first chance to travel and live overseas, and my first opportunity to have the weight of real responsibility on my shoulders. I'm a better person for it.

However, in retrospect, I wish I had done them in reverse order. I should have gone ROTC or to the Naval Academy first. I have a lot of former-enlisted friends who got out of the Navy and five years later, are still struggling to finish their degree, if they haven't already given up. So I think in some regards that I'm a statistical anomaly. I also have a lot of friends who didn't join the military or go to college that are drifting. In fact, very few of the people I know that are under age 40 and skipped college are doing well in any sense of the word. Most of them hate their jobs, struggle financially, and lack any kind of clear passion or direction. The same is true of my college-educated friends, but in smaller numbers.

This is all anecdotal, of course, but the data out there is clear: college pays for itself many times over, and results in a very significant increase in income and quality of life.

You raise some good points though I believe it's very difficult to get into any of the military academies - don't you need to be recommended by your congressman and have outstanding credentials.

One benefit of a college education is that it is often an absolute necessity for a career that will provide one with a job that allows you to perform very creative and satisfying work. I retired 17 years ago but I used to look forward to going to work every day, particularly the last 20 years or so when I was senior enough to lead a team of engineers that created computer programs that took advantage of newer and faster computers and new technologies that not only gave me immense personal satisfaction but enabled our department to perform better engineering analyses in far less time and for far less cost than ever before. You can't compare that with mundane, repetitive, boring, and non challenging work. At the end of your career it's great when you can look back and feel that you made a big contribution to the success of your company's products. I was lucky enough to work on the most successful defense contract of the period which was the US Navy's underwater fleet ballistic missile system, Polaris, Poseidon, & Trident.

I think the Navy is a great way to go. I enlisted in the Navy's Nuclear Propulsion program right out of high school. It was a six year commitment. The first two years were dedicated to training. Then the next four years were spent working on the reactor's for an aircraft carrier. The Navy worked us pretty hard, but it was worth it in the end.

On getting out of the Navy I used my GI Bill to get a BS in Math. I graduated in 2008 at the start of the recession. Wasn't able to find a job using my degree, but was able to fall back on my Navy training and get a job in a small power plant. I still ended up with about 11k in student loans.

A lot of my friends got out of the Navy and went straight into the civilian nuclear power industry to work as operators. The pay there for Navy nuclear trianed operators (no degree) starts at about 55-70k base with overtime and bonuses paid out on top of that. 4-8 years in most of them are expected to have their RO licenses. At that point the base pay is about 70-90k with bonuses and overtime toping them out at around 120-130k. The one down side to working in that industry is the hours. The plants are manned 24/7/365 which means someone has to work nights and weekends. Rotating shift work is the norm for the entire industry.

I had one military friend (no degree) make $50k in three months during a maintenance outage at a plant in California. They had him on 12 hour shifts 6 days per week for the three months that the plant was down.

The medical field is another great way to 'use' the military. The training is free and when you get out of the military you have real world work experience, soemthing that most new college grads don't have.

A few of my friends used their GI BILL to get an engineering degree. Most of them graduated and went to work at Nuclear power plants as onsite engineers.

Most of the people working in the commercial nuclear power industry right now are baby boomers.
Some jobs in the military don't pay off like the Nuclear field did for my friends and I. Just like how some degree's pay off better than others.

With the baby boomers starting to retire the Nuclear power industry is going to be turning over a very large percentage of their workforce in the next 10-20 years. This trend is going to help my generation a ton when it comes to working in that industry.

As for me I make <50k/yr working at a small gas plant. The plant is on a college campus and one of the benfits or working here is free part time tuition.

Old Limey -
Your comments here tonight, paired with comments you had made recently concerning your family's finances, provoke the following personal question, which you can answer or not as you see fit:

You previously had mentioned that of your three children, only one had a four-year degree, while another apparently has a two-year degree, and your son no college at all. Since based on this current post, you obviously believe higher education is a key component of one's financial success, I am wondering your feeling about the educational paths taken, or not taken, by your kids?

So in re reading your question I didn't answer part of what you were asking. So here goes

What worked:
1: Joining the Navy first then going to college.
2: Getting vocational training from the Navy in field that could be used outside of the military (not much of a civilian job market for infantry or tank drivers).
3: Graduating from college in 4 years(as opposed to 5 or 6).

What didn't:
1: Going to college in a smaller city where there the part time job market was saturated. Bigger cities are better for working part time and going to school (or working full time and going to school part time for that matter).
2: After 6 years in the military still not knowing what to go to school for.
3: Jumping straight into school full time right after getting out of the military. Taking some time to adjust to civilian life for at least a year would have helped me make better decisions as far as where to go to school and what to get a degree in.

And one more for the don't do like I did category.

Don't move back in with your parents when you get out of the military!:)

A college degree is no guarantee of a solid job, but is does give one a better chance. It probably doesn't make sense to go into tens of thousands of $ in debt. But you don't have to do that. The qx is, "Is it a good investment"? I have two answers for this: It should and can be, particularly when the student knows what they want.
However, with respect to fmf, I maintain that it is the wrong qx or bettter yet only a part of the full qx.
I still believe that the reason to go to college is to learn, not just facts, figures, dates, and stuff; but how to think, analyze and evaluate problems, situations and life. If one is only concerned about making money, well learn a trade--whether that trade is accounting, engineering or plumbing. The discussion tonight completely discounts the element of education of the self.

My humble opinion.

The biggest problem I have with the idea of getting a degree is that there seems to be a huge disconnect in hiring people with a degree vs people who know how to do their job. Being able to write an essay and take lecture notes and pass an exam on the history and styles of management doesn't mean a person will actually be capable of managing well.

Aside from that, I also don't like the American system of requiring gen-ed classes and in a lot of cases, a minor. If you're a business major, why are you required to take a low-level science course, that will affect whether or not you can graduate and receive your degree and which you end up paying for monetarily? I have a lot of friends in this situation - being required to take classes that aren't relevant to fill the electives void while paying for said classes and lacking any real relevancy to their majors. I understand the need to be a well-rounded, well-educated individual, but I'd rather not pay thousands in tuition for a subject that doesn't apply to a career I'm going towards. That's what my free time, personal interest and the library are for.

To those of you who joined the military, a lot of us, while not decrepit while young, would never meet the military physical requirements.

Did you risk your lives to get free food, training, and medical care? When I was a a young unemployed adult college student, I risked my life to physical abuse from my family.

Who's braver? Me or you?

I did work for many years.

I would have liked to get a jump start in life too.

I am a survivor too, and I have a voice as well.

it all depends on your goals. If you want to be rich and powerful, then too much college education is unnecessary and expensive. What a person like that needs is the right type of education vis-a-vis money financial management and investing. This days, there is really no directly relation between the level of education and the level of financial success. This is a personal opinion-but i have been wrong before

I got out of the marines two years ago, after going in right out of high school. I am currently working for a fortune 500 company (a job I never would have gotten with out the military). I am going to school at night or online. Here is the best part- The government is paying me roughly $1100 per month throught the gi bill, but %100 of my tuition, books, everything is already paid for by my employer. I told my boss before this whole thing started what the situation was and he said that they offered to pay for my school, and that it was ok to take from both pots, and even that I deserved it. So to make a long story short- At the end of my college career I wil have profited over $50,000 over 4 years instead of racking up debt. I may be a special case, but my time in the marines definitely helped me out.

I agree that society does not value trade/vocational work. I myself am fairly highly educated (MBA and several industry designations), but I find I get the most enjoyment out of working with my hands. If I were to do it all over again, I'd possibly own my own automotive repair business.

I recently read the book "Shop Class as Soulcraft" by Matthew Crawford. It discusses his journey from educated philosopher at a prestigous think tank, to a mortorcyle mechanc. The book delves into the percieved devaluing of trade and vocational labor in today's society.

My children will definately have the option to go to college if they choose, but I do not consider it mandatory for success or happiness in life.

Betsy R:
I' m sorry for you that you were abused by your family.
Having said that your post has nothing to do with the topic, and, is rather sad.
It is needlessly bitter at the wrong target.

Best of luck to you.

I agree, sorry about the abuse and all, but that has to be the most random and pointless comment I have ever seen.

Children have the right to make their own decisions. At the time I thought I knew what was best for them but they elected not to take my advice, and that is their perogative. It's probably because I am a very controlling person and tend to think that my way is the best way. With my son in particular it was a constant battle, a battle that he won in the end. We are on the best of terms now and I am pleased with the way his career has turned out and am proud of his achievements. All three children are financially independant and lead happy lives.

From other people's stories there seems to be a common thread, i.e. it's very unusual to follow a straight line career path from high school graduation to retirement. Probably the contributing factor in my 'almost perfect straight line' career path was our decision to emigrate from England to the USA when I was 22, had just graduated, and was a newly wed. When you land in a foreign country, have very little money, don't know anyone, have no support system, and nobody to ask for advice there isn't any room for errors and experimentation. There's no running home to Mommy & Daddy. The successful immigrants that I admire the most are the ones that couldn't even speak English when they arrived.

I couldn't agree more with putting off going to college until you are ready. After high school I got an associate’s degree from a local junior college and then went straight into the workforce. Now 9 years later I am back in school working on my bachelor’s degree and I couldn't be happier that I waited until I was ready. I am performing better, getting more out it, and I am better equipped to pay back student loans quickly now that I have an established career. And I even have a good reason for going back to school, to advance my career.

I like what some countries do and require college students to spend a year working in an industry related to their field of study. I'm amazed how many people choose a major only to find that they either A) hate working in that field professionally or B) realize that no one is hiring people for a particular major. It amazes me how many people major in something without first figuring out how it will help them in the real world.

One of my father's best friends had the idea that everyone should be given $1M upon graduation from high school. If you could learn to make that last for the rest of your life, then you're set. But if you squandered your $1M, then you'd have to work for the rest of your life! He was quite a character! I have a feeling that FMF would've taken that deal.

unfortunately, the only skills that pay off in dollars & cents are pragmatic skills ... I have degrees in physics & microbiology. I did not get a job that I could support my family with until I pursued a Master's degree in computer science ... If you are getting a degree for yourself, then do what you want, but a brighter future requires pragmatic skills that an employer recognizes and will pay for ... all education is worthwhile, but all education is not worth the money you pay for it

Disciplines such as physics and microbiology usually require an advanced degree in order to earn a good living. In fact these days in the technical fields, as you found out, you really need a Master's degree since that's mostly what the competition has.

I started work with BS degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering but soon found out that if I wanted really interesting and challenging work assignments and to increase my chances of getting promotions and having a long career with my employer that I needed a Master's. Fortunately the nearest university offered an 'early bird' program for a Master's and my employer paid 75% of the tuition for every course that I achieved at least a B, so for about 2 1/2 years I took 3 classes/week from 7am - 10am and graduated back in 1963. As it turned out, that degree made all the difference in the world and I had a wonderful 32 year career with that employer, and as a result have been receiving a nice pension since 1992 when I accepted a golden handshake about 6 months earlier than I had planned retiring. In retrospect I didn't realize at the time how great the difference was between graduate and undergraduate classes and that high achievement required a high work ethic.

I have and will always say, a college education is its own reward. If viewed as an investment, you have missed the point of obtaining a higher education. College is not trade school.

If one's focus is highest possible ROI, then either get a trade or comparable major in "trades like" majors. By this I mean the "professional" majors, you know what I mean: accounting, finance, engineering, education, law even medical school.

There is nothing wrong with this. There is much value as a matter a fact. But it is faulty thinking, foolish thinking, to believe you have an expectation of a job, much less an occupation/career if you major in something else such as social science, humanities, behaviorial sciences, and even science programs in that particular field. That is not the reason to major in these disciplines. One studies these for personal interest/love. No one should be dis-respected for doing so. (Unless they complain about not getting a job in their area.)

You can get a degree in these fields and get a job/career that is satisfying and rewarding. Just not necessarily in the field. And by adhering to the guidelines set forth on this blog, retire comfortably. Hint, hint I did. I even got one in my major.

Bill said:

"a college education is its own reward. If viewed as an investment, you have missed the point of obtaining a higher education. College is not trade school."

I could not disagree with this statement more. I suspect there are some who go to college "for its own reward" but I doubt very many would come out of college and say, "I realize my degree has no practical value but thats not why I went. I went to expand my mind."

College is trade school. Unfortunately almost all 4 year degree programs are full of 50% fluff that has no real training value at all. Luckily some colleges are starting to experiment with more focused programs that include things like 3 year degrees which are just as rigorous in the discipline of choice but strip out lots of the fluff. It makes it cheaper, and gets you earning money quicker and stops you from piling up debt quicker. Besides three years of getting drunk should be enough for anyone.

For those who want an experience that is its own reward, they are free to extend their programs to 4,5,6 years or more. Many do this already. You can spend your whole life getting educated for its own sake if you like. Degree based college programs should not be about the experience, they should be about training. If you want an experience, you build your own program for that.

You really can't beat the college experience, there are alot of life lessons that are learned there... well, usually. For certain degrees anyways. My problems were always with money growing up....teaching children about money is CRUCIAL, in my mind. I’m not going to blame parents, schools, etc, but quite simply, I clearly “didn’t get it”, and I am still paying for those mistakes a decade later! And quite frankly, I hate the position I got myself in, everytime I pay off my past debts… I could have used my time/money sooooo much better.

As this is in the archives now, you may not see this.
I see you disagree. And i disagree with you. I didn't spend three years getting drunk. Left school with no debt (and paid for my for years myself) got a good career. And by living below my means am well prepared for retirement. (having a defined benefit pension helps)

College is not a trade school but you feel differently and thats fine. May I buy you a "virtual beer" or coffee if you prefer.

Touche Bill,

To clarify I was not implying that everyone who goes to college gets drunk for three years (but there is lots of that going on both for people who are just there for the experience as well as those who are serious about getting a degree). It was more of a jab at the typical college experience that 20 year olds go through.

The way you describe your experience sounds great and responsible. Thats why I said if you want an experience out of college rather than a marketable skill that is fine if you choose that. I am under the impression from your comments that you feel the experience is most important and a marketable skill would come secondary to that. If I misunderstood that, I apologize. If not then thats what I take issue with. For me personally the experience of college was worth zero and I have long since learned that everything I needed to do my job I had learned by the end of my sophmore year. I am all in favor of people taking extra classes to expand their mind if they are interested in it. But if we don't mandata that plumbers expand their mind to be able to work on pipes why does an engineer need to expand his mind in order to write software or build bridges? The answer is he doesn't but someone has decided to mandate that he expand his mind if he wants to get a degree to be an engineer. I think this makes little sense and that is the experience concept that I object to.

If you think that is vital to getting an engineering degree then we can be clear on where we disagree and leave it at that.

Jeff -

I wouldn't give anyone $1M, but I did come up with an idea that would give people some starting capital:

At 18, individuals would have the option to receive the present value of their lifetime (based on life expectancy at the time) expected "zero-bracket taxes". This would be the aggregate sum of taxes you won't pay on the first n dollars because the first n dollars are exempt. (Yes, this would require actuarial calculations, expected wage and tax inflation, etc.)

A person electing to receive this sum up front would, in exchange, lose their zero-bracket amount, and would pay tax annually on every dollar of income.

If the calculations are correct, there would be no long-term net loss of tax revenue, as the payouts would be recouped over time through higher tax receipts.

"I think the key is that people need to figure out what they want to do with their lives before they start doing it. If you know you want to be a nurse, engineer or teacher then going to college is the obvious choice. If you don't really know what you want to do for a job then college is a very expensive place to try and figure that out. "

100% agree. Sure, kids who have rich parents to pay the bill have a luxury to study personal interest/love. But most of us cannot afford it.

There are ways to study stuff for personal interest: you can make something your minor, you can even have a second major - most schools don't charge extra for additional credits once you are full time, you can read books from a library, you can even take private music lessons (after you earned money to pay for them) or take some music or dance classes for fun.

It doesn't just apply to engineering or other "trade" professions. You can study science if you want to be a researcher in the field, go to medical school or work in the field that requires this specialized knowledge. You can study music if you want to be a musician and have talent to do it professionally - and your talent should be measurable with your ambitions be it to be a concert performer, playing in orchestra, or teaching and if you have a very clear understanding of the competitiveness of the field. Think also if you'd be happy doing something less than your ambitions, and what you'd do if you fail to earn a living with it. You may want to study something else as backup or simply set an age limit. But you should truly understand the difficulties involved and try to accomplish your goal without getting into too much debt.

Same thing about humanities - you can become a writer like a daughter of a friend of mine whose recently published book of short stories won a number of awards; or become a lawyer or a journalist or technical writer or a teacher. But have some idea of what you want to do before you get $$$ into debt..

@Apex - I have an MS/CS, and with the exception of few courses (3 courses in humanities, 3 courses in social sciences and 2 English composition courses), the required undergrad courses were directly related to my profession. We did have a lot of electives, but this was really our choice - major-related or for fun. Not sure what you had to take that wasn't related...

My wife and I talk about this all the time, especially concerning younger family members!
I feel college is certainly over-utilized by too many people who just should not be there based on their maturity level and/or academic acumen. I can tell you I was shocked and amazed by some people's writing/math skills, or lack thereof, in some of my undergraduate courses, especially the entry level courses. However, being a millenial (HS Class of 2000), I was "brainwashed" by everyone around me (parents, friends of the family, school) that I "need" to go to college to succeed. This message was repeated over and over, and not just to me, but to fellow classmates. Couple that with the fact that so many entry level jobs that pay at least decent wages requires at least a Bachelor's degree, I can see the compelling "need" to go to college. However, if one feels that he/she needs to go to college he/she should know what he/she wants to do. Also, it is, unfortunately, a great idea to analyze potential income vs. choice of degree. It may not make sense to pay 40k+ for a degree that provides an income only marginally better than other entry level jobs. I say that this is unfortunate because this may siphon folks who are really interested in one field into an unrelated field simply based on money. I am sure there are a number of people who went into business vs. english just to secure their financial future.

The way I did it: I took as many AP courses and post-secondary options (college classes you take while in HS), to take care of some of the basic degree requirements. I joined the Army National Guard because they payed 100% tuition and fees for my bachelor's (Caveat: I joined in '99, when the world was just peachy...never imagined 9/11, or that we would go to Iraq?!...with those events the cost/benefit of a 8 year commitment is much different than I made in '99!). Additionally, I scored exceptionally high on my ACT and SAT so I got a small scholarship for my first 4 years (covered about 10% of tuition, fees, books...though I only needed for books, parking permit). If I had focused in HS and got better than a 3.0 probably could have done better in the scholarship department. So, I got a bachelor's with 0 debt. Then I went to grad school to get my professional degree (pharmacist), which was 6 semesters full-time, no Nat. Guard benefits, no scholarship, all loans baby! Ended up with ~45k in debt (just for tuition and fees, no room and board or credit card debt), which I am happily paying off still just 2 years post-graduation. I also worked 20-30 hours a week in a part-time job (cashier at first, then pharmacy intern) to pay for my rent, car, food, etc. That being said, I am an exception, as I knew what I wanted to do, what I wanted to do pays well, and was in the military (and am a commissioned officer now).

In conclusion, do well in HS, take a few years to figure out what you may want to do in life (work, join the military, Peace Corps, etc), then if go to school, be aggressive in filling out the FAFSA, take out the minimum in loans (you will have to work while in college full-time), and don't take on credit card debt!

I could go on and on with this subject...

I agree with the author that college is not the place to waste time. It is serious business that requires investment of time and money. Therefore, you need to do thorough research before you enroll in a college degree program. Agreed that making a career decision is not easy, but many schools these days assist students in discovering the right career for them.

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